I’m repeating myself here, but it’s warranted after hearing several news reports this morning.
In Portland, trouble is brewing because police are being forced by the city council to evict demonstrators, even though they’ve stated that it is against their better judgement. It was only a matter of time before some reactionary municipal governments stopped resisting their urge to flex their muscles. That they’ve restrained themselves as long as they have is a miracle, especially in Toronto where I can’t imagine Mayor Ford is too keen on them “squatting” in his city.
In San Francisco two police officers were slightly injured in contact with protestors and their signs. It is not clear whether it was deliberate or an accident, but of course it fuels those who are trying to discredit the movement. Perhaps there was a trouble-maker in the crowd; perhaps it was an accident caused by a careless nail sticking out of a sign; perhaps it was a set up. Whatever, it was only a matter of time before one or all of these conditions came into play.
In Toronto, there’s been a lot of talk about problems with homeless people gathering in the encampments. Again, it is only a matter of time before these well organized and moderated groups become infiltrated by less controlable elements. With regards to the homeless, Occupy Toronto people are reluctant to exclude them because they are actually a symbol of the prombems they are trying to address. That doesn’t solve the problem, though, of these elements slowly eroding the positive structure that has endured this long and eventually causing the kinds of problems that will discredit the whole affair.
Politicians and entertainers know that they have to leave on a high. Overstaying your welcome tends to sour the good things that you’ve accomplished. If you’re on top of your game, you have an exit strategy and a follow up plan. That’s the position that the “Occupy …” movement is in right now. If they don’t move to the next level, opposing factions will pick away at their weak spots and discredit was, to date, has been a remarkable acheivement.
There is a possibility that the protestors see their expulsion and arrest as the next step. Peaceful protestors forcibly removed makes a strong statement which in many ways is consistent with their message. The people’s rights are being compromised and they need to be taken back. It might promote the kind of self-examination that is one of the goals. This may work if it all happens in a totally peaceful way, -Ghandi-style, so to speak. News footage of them being passive and carried away by the police, like the sit-ins of the 60s, might be an interesting ending to this story if they can pull it off.